September 5, 2012 Subject:
Fifty years ago in urban planning, and might as well be a million
Fascinating, heartbreaking 1962 presentation by architect Edmund Bacon (the Robert Moses of Philadelphia) on the ambitious master plan for the postwar redevelopment of Center City. You don't have to have grown up in Center City, as I did, to feel the poignance here. Some of the plan's elements (the broad-scale redevelopment of Society Hill as a residential district) were successfully put into place; others (I.M. Pei's fourth and fifth Society Hill Towers) weren't; some were implemented piecemeal, and some, like Penn Center, the Chestnut St. pedestrian walk and Market East, just never reached the level of success and livability the planners dreamed of. Overall it's a heart-tugging snapshot of a time in the postwar life of American cities when resources seemed limitless, the future seemed bright, and no urban problems seemed too intractable to be solved by smart guys with good intentions.
In cooperation with the American Institute of Architects.